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The FDA approved a drug to treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer's and potentially slow its progression. But not all doctors are willing to prescribe it.

Published by Business Insider on Tue, 08 Jun 2021


<p><em><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60bf703893c6fa00195e5ab6-1778/GettyImages-1175270464.jpg" border="0" alt="Scientist working in lab" data-mce-source="Morsa Images/Getty Images"></em></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p><em>Hello! This story is from today's edition of Morning Brew, an awesome daily email read by 2.9 million next-generation leaders like you. Sign up <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/reviews/out'u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.morningbrew.com%2Fdaily%2Fsubscribe%3Futm_medium%3Dpartnership%26utm_source%3Dinsider">here</a> to get it!</em></p><p>Yesterday, the FDA&nbsp;<a href="https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/us-fda-set-rule-controversial-biogen-alzheimers-drug-2021-06-07/'utm_source=morning_brew" target="_blank" rel="noopener">approved</a>&nbsp;Biogen's aducanumab, the first drug to treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer's (sticky brain plaques) and potentially slow the disease's progression in early stage patients. Although far from a cure, aducanumab could mark a new era in treating the leading cause of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the US.</p><h2>Not all doctors are ready to prescribe</h2><p>Biogen had shelved the drug in early 2019, then surprised the medical community by breaking it back out that October. Last November, an expert panel advised the FDA&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;to approve aducanumab after a pair of studies showed conflicting results about its effectiveness.&nbsp;</p><p>But the agency&nbsp;<a href="https://www.npr.org/2021/06/07/1003964235/fda-approves-controversial-alzheimers-drug-aducanumab'utm_source=morning_brew" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fast-tracked</a>&nbsp;it, arguing that the benefits of slowing Alzheimer's outweigh the risks. Since aducanumab's clinical effectiveness isn't certain, Biogen still has to conduct post-approval trials, but some health experts worry the FDA made the wrong decision.</p><p><strong>Big picture:</strong>&nbsp;It's easier to crack the TikTok algorithm than it is to treat Alzheimer's. A string of failures led many pharma companies to give up, though some analysts think Biogen's breakthrough could renew interest, Reuters reports. There's certainly money to be made: Biogen says the treatment, which will be sold under the name "Aduhelm," will cost $56,000 a year.</p><p><em>This story is from today's edition of Morning Brew, a daily email. Sign up <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/reviews/out'u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.morningbrew.com%2Fdaily%2Fsubscribe%3Futm_medium%3Dpartnership%26utm_source%3Dinsider">here</a> to get it!</em></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/fda-approved-biogens-aducanumab-to-treat-underlying-cause-of-alzheimers-2021-6#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-human-survive-outer-space-without-spacesuit-2017-5">How long humans could survive in space without a spacesuit</a></p>
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